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DiMauro: A BC victory to be savored in the moment

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Suddenly, this moment, already magical enough with the outcome of the game two kneel-downs away, became awash in pixie dust that joined the falling rain. This ensuing bowl victory for the BC Eagles now had musical accompaniment, when the folks at Fenway Park began playing “Mr. Brightside” over the public address system.

And the singing began, much like it does on such occasions at Alumni Stadium. A wink and a nod from the Fenway family to the BC family, not so subtly reminding 17th-ranked Southern Methodist that it would be a long ride home.

There hasn’t been a better moment to be an Eagle in years. It was just that: a moment. Fleeting, as moments are. But the pleasant surprise of hearing “Mr. Brightside” married to the pleasant surprise of a Wasabi Fenway Bowl victory reminded BC fans all over again how much fun this can be.

It felt a most odd time to remember my favorite professor from BC, Dr. Peter Kreeft. Dr. Kreeft, still teaching at BC now in his 80s, taught philosophy to me my freshman year. His insights ping pong through my mind frequently. And they sure did in this moment.

I saw an image of Dr. Kreeft reminding me to stay in the moment. His class ignited an intellectual curiosity in Buddhist teachings – specifically on how to remain present. It wasn’t easy during Thursday’s game. It was hard not to link Thursday’s events with BC’s potentially bright future and how this all would look come September. Thomas Castellanos was the best player on the field, virtually everyone else is returning and coach Jeff Hafley has a top 20 portal class due in Chestnut Hill.

And yet … how to stay in the moment and simply enjoy this wonderful victory without projecting eight months down the road? Buddhist teachings, in their own words, “are about reclaiming and expanding the present moment. It tries to make you understand, without arguing the point, that there is no purpose in getting anywhere if, when you get there, all you do is think about getting to some other future moment.”

Ah, but human nature often views the present as an obstacle, succinctly summarized by author Dan Harris: “Don’t hunt around your plate for the next bite of food without enjoying what’s in your mouth.”

So that’s when I closed my eyes and started singing along to the Fenway din. “Jealousy, turning saints into the seas, swimming on sick lullabies” … and by the time I got to “open up my eager eyes, I’m Mr. Brightside” (I always sing “eagle” eyes, for obvious reasons), I was in need of a hankie.

OK. So what is the point of all this? Yes, it’s human nature to reflexively look forward. But this was a day to simply enjoy what just happened. BC beat a top 20 team and clinched a winning record. And the Eagles did so in their city’s iconic ballpark on a very New England weather day.

It was a day to celebrate football in the northeast, so often an afterthought to all those proprietary southerners. SMU got a full dose of Boston. The Boston Red Sox, Boston College, Boston weather, Boston turf and a Bostonian barb, cranking up a familiar song to BC fans with the game decided.

“To end this season like that, with a bowl win over a ranked team when really nobody gave us a chance, let’s just be honest – It was special,” Hafley said after the game.

More Hafley: “I told the guys, it’s going to rain, it’s going to be wet. It’s going to be cold. It’s not going to feel good. So embrace it. And this is like when you’re a little kid and you roll around in the mud. Have fun with it. I mean, you’re playing in Fenway Park. I don’t care what the conditions are. They had to play in it, we had to play it. And I thought our guys handled it better than their guys.”

It was a day to send seniors off with a victory. It was a day to celebrate Boston. It was a day to be in the moment. Next season is still many months away. And none of us are Nostradamus.

“I don’t think you’d ever call a game meaningless,” Hafley said. “I mean, these guys work way too hard and sacrifice way so much in their lives. They weren’t home with their families on Christmas. So I think it’s very disrespectful to think, or even for someone to say that bowl games are meaningless. 

“Every time you have a chance to step on the field and play, you’re lucky. You better respect the game and feel honored. And these guys showed that. I thought we played harder and tougher and had more energy and juice – and that’s why I’m so proud of them.”

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Basketball

DiMauro: All in all, a solid year for BC sports

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If you are reading this, chances are your primary means of remaining connected to Boston College runs through athletics.

Oh, and we’ve been tortured souls, too, especially in recent years. We are idealists and fatalists, demanding yet forgiving, loyal and resilient, even if sometimes it feels as though we make the long trek up the cliff to Lovers Leap … only to get shoved.

All of which makes the sports year of 2023-24 a time to celebrate. Boston College did itself proud, no small occurrence given that in this unsteady (perverse?) time of expansion and realignment, schools like BC must always look their Sunday best, with no overt warts or love handles.

Women’s lacrosse, BC’s working definition of pride and joy, capped the sports season with the national championship Memorial Day weekend in Cary, NC. It was the program’s second natty in four years, a three-hour infomercial for the entire institution and more proof that, yes, it can be done at BC with the right coach.

Acacia Walker-Weinstein – you’ll note that only the letter “W” separates her from “Einstein” – not only hung a banner, but helped BC earn a distinction few other athletic programs in the country could trumpet. How many other schools made national championship games (both televised by ESPN) in two different sports fewer than two months apart?

Think about that one: Men’s hockey, during an otherwise memorable season, fell short in the national championship game. But the Sons of Greg Brown did the school proud all season. Not a bad accomplishment to see “BC in the national finals” on the ESPN scroll in mid-April (hockey) and late May (lacrosse). It’s hard to buy that kind of advertising, particularly when and if realignment and expansion happen again.

Football won a bowl game over a ranked team at Fenway Park, returns a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos and then made the splash of a cannonball, hiring Bill O’Brien as head coach. Three other women’s sports showed promise as well: field hockey (11-7, made the ACC Tournament); softball (30-24, made the ACC Tournament) and volleyball, which continues to improve steadily under coach Jason Kennedy, finished 19-13 and made the ACC Tournament.

Otherwise, baseball gets a pass as new coach Todd Interdonato assimilates to the ACC and establishes his culture; the soccer programs (3-9-5 and 3-9-6) were lousy; and I remain concerned about men’s and women’s basketball. Put it this way: Sure feels as though better players are leaving than are entering.

Off the field, “Friends Of The Heights,” BC’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective, grew massively, keeping BC competitive in a cutthroat environment. Friends Of The Heights also homered into the upper deck, hiring veteran athletic administrator Jim Paquette as its new Chief Development Officer. Paquette will advise the Board on overall development strategies, using his 16 years as an administrator at BC that specialized in fundraising.

BC’s overall cachet also made a splash on social media when Forbes Magazine named it one of the country’s “New Ivies.”

Based on its researchForbes, the century-old national business magazine, reported that American companies are souring on hiring Ivy League graduates, instead preferring high achievers from 20 other prominent universities – “Private and Public New Ivies.”

BC joins private school “New Ivies” Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Southern California and Vanderbilt. Ah, to be judged by the company one keeps.

One school year hasn’t produced this much for BC in years. And it’s significant. The idea now is to build, not regress.

Full disclosure: There are many things I still don’t like. I’m told Father Leahy neither attended the Frozen Four nor the lacrosse Final Four. It is disrespectful to the players, coaches and alumni to have a leader who acts as if so much about what makes BC great is beneath him. And we still seem to have these spasms of tone deafness, such as patrolling the parking lots like stormtroopers the day of the spring football game.

But 2023-24 was an encouraging year for BC in many ways. Yes, we always want more. But we were getting less for a long time. Not this year. A tip of the cap to athletic director Blake James, his staff, the coaches and the kids.

We pause now to enjoy summer and await Labor Day night in Tallahassee. Here’s to 2024-25, hollering “Mr. Brightside” again with the kids from the crowded bleachers.

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached at m.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius 

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Football

Boston College lineman Kyle Hergel selected 3rd overall in CFL draft

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The former Eagles guard was not selected in last week’s NFL draft, but quickly heard his name yesterday in the 2024 CFL draft, going 3rd overall to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Hergel, who spent one year at Boston College after transferring from Texas State. The guard was a huge success in helping transform the offensive line play in 2023, gaining the best PFF pass block grade at Boston College (86.6) with no sacks allowed and two quarterback hits on 402 dropbacks. This was good enough to earn All-ACC honorable mention and a trip to the East-West shrine game.

Recently signing with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent following the 2024 NFL draft, Hergel will seemingly look to catch on in the NFL this summer before trekking north of the boarder to play for the Roughriders.

John Pupel gets Patriots rookie camp invite

The former safety will travel to nearby Foxboro, Ma as an invite to Patriots rookie camp. After beginning his college career at Dartmouth, Pupel joined the Eagles in 2022. Starting 11 games last year with 81 tackles, a pack break up and a forced fumble.

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Football

Boston College’s Elijah Jones and Christian Mahogany drafted, others signed: Eagles Draft Weekend Recap

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It was a rather successful weekend for Boston College in the NFL Draft, as both Elijah Jones and Christian Mahogany were taken while guard Kyle Hergel inked a UDFA deal. In addition, longtime and former BC notables Jaelen Gill and Josh DeBerry have received UDFA deals.

Jones – The first Eagle off the board this year, Jones went 90th overall in the third round to the Arizona Cardinals. He missed the final three games of the season for undisclosed reasons but had a big year that shot up his draft stock with a conference-best five interceptions while also defending 13 passes. As a member of the 2018 recruiting class, the corner tallied 60 games at BC and racked up a First-team All-ACC selection this past year.

Jones’ 86.9 defensive PFF grade was the sixth-best in the draft class out of corners and he was the 11th cornerback off the board for the Eagles.

Mahogany – Mahogany sat out of the bowl game and had some noticeable buzz surrounding his name entering the draft, but the guard fell to the sixth round to the Detroit Lions. Mahogany missed most of the 2022 season after an ACL injury but came back fully healthy for 2023, posting the 16th-best total PFF grade out of guards in the draft class.

Mahogany fell further than many, with many projections putting him as a Day 2 pick, but given he’s 24 and his scouting reports present some clear downside, it’s not all that shocking that he fell all the way to the sixth round.

Hergel – Hergel didn’t exactly have any buzz surrounding his name but he managed to grab a UDFA deal with the Saints. He was a four-year starter between North Dakota and Texas State before he was a fifth-year transfer to BC, and he put up a solid enough season to get signed.

DeBerry – DeBerry signed on with the Cowboys, as he transferred to Texas A&M for his fifth year after four seasons with the Eagles. He was a big loss for BC’s secondary, as he started seven games this year for the Aggies and grabbed two interceptions.

Gill – Gill put up huge numbers for Fresno State this past year after three seasons with BC. After an initial start to his career at Ohio State, he transferred to the Eagles ahead of the 2020 season and through three years he put up 1,092 yards. He put up basically half of that in just one year with the Bulldogs, tallying 516 yards on 49 catches and six touchdowns.

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